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Indoor air pollution

We know that outdoor air pollution is harmful to human health, but in general, less importance has been given to sources of indoor air pollution and the potential health effects. We spend up to 90% of our time indoors, so it is important to understand what indoor or 'household' pollution is and where it comes from.

What is indoor air pollution?

Indoor air pollution is dust, dirt or gases in the air inside a building, such as your home, school or workplace, which can be harmful to health.

Where indoor pollution comes from

  1. Pollutants produced inside buildings from: 
    • Cooking and heating your home
    • Smoking
    • Cleaning, painting and varnishing materials
    • Mould from water droplets (showers, cooking, drying clothes etc.)
    • Chemicals in new furniture, carpets and furnishings
    • Chemicals in personal hygiene products
  2. Pollutants produced outside buildings:
    • Emissions from traffic and industry
    • Natural radon gas

In some parts of the UK radon gas can be an issue, but in our borough and most of London levels are low and there is less than 1% chance of having a radon concentration at or above the Action Level set by Public Health England.

How to reduce air pollution at home

There are lots of things that you can do to help keep the air cleaner in your home:

Reduce gas, smoke and moisture in kitchens

  • Cook or heat by electricity, preferably from renewable sources
  • When cooking, keep lids on pots to reduce moisture and help avoid the formation of mould
  • Open windows or use extractor fans to reduce pollution levels, especially if you griddle or burn something
  • Service gas boilers regularly to help them burn fuel cleanly and reduce pollution (including toxic gases like carbon monoxide). Use a professional Gas Safe engineer
  • Use non-toxic, natural cleaning products, such as those in this healthy cleaning guide

Ventilate

  • Open windows when cleaning or cooking to reduce the build-up of pollutants
  • If your home is near a busy road try to ventilate from the opposite side; keep windows closed at rush hour. This can make a significant difference
  • Use trickle vents (found on some windows) to reduce condensation and help prevent mould
  • Dry clothes outdoors, repair water leaks/damage and open windows or use extractor fans after a bath or shower

Reduce burning

  • Avoid using open fires, wood burning stoves, free standing gas or paraffin (kerosene) heaters and candles. Keep fires for special occasions only and always use authorised (smokeless) dry fuels or exempt appliances. More information and advice is given on our smoke and bonfires web page

Avoid smoking tobacco products

  • Stop smoking or smoke outside. If you smoke inside, ventilate the room well. Be considerate to neighbours, especially in flats
  • The NHS provides more information about the risks of tobacco smoke

Updated: 24 February 2021